Thursday, June 17, 2010

Diary of a Community Activist

Years and years ago if you told me I could say this I would have laughed!  I think mostly I didn't want to stick out too much or make a fuss.

My new "career" began when I moved into my townhouse on Halloween 2005.  I was one of the first ones into a new construction - and building was going on everywhere around me.   I was living in Fraggle Rock as men with helmets in big yellow trucks went scooting past my kitchen window and all I could see as I sat at my table were the tops of their heads.

Problem was the builder wasn't living here.  Long overdue and unfinished work was left everywhere. Complaints were routine.

Water problems were springing up in basements.  Newly planted trees were dying.

Little by little a new habit was born.

Call the builder.  Get sent directly to voicemail (of course.) Make a report. Request info about completion. Write it up. Take pictures. Send it to the builder in writing. CC the board. Send copies to the town agencies if the problem was appropriate for their domain. Repeat.

It wasn't just a call I made - or a series of calls - it was a campaign.

No blame.  No judgmental name calling - just the facts.  I experienced the value of persistence, that's for sure

Mostly with lots of teeth pulling things got completed.

Then came new tenants.  Seems every single one of them had a dog. Lots of them had no notion of cleaning up after the dog.  What's up with that??  Feel free to walk your dog through the neighborhood guys, and leave big steaming piles of dog poop in your wake.


New campaigns began.

I took pictures of the "green bags for doggies" pylons available in other communities.  You know the ones where there's a "clean up after your dog" sign posted above a receptacle that holds the bags for you to put it in.  Education + solution. (The fact that we, as adults, still need this sort of education is another matter entirely, but so be it. I'll leave that for later.)

This year the big snows came with windstorms that trundled full recycle pails down the street emptying their contents everywhere. After the snow melted the streets bore the results.  My friend Magda and I were semi-horrified on our daily walks until we decided not to wait for "them" to clean up, but to campaign ourselves - this time with lawn bags and gloves on our outings.  Our backyards extended far beyond the boundary of property lines as down the street and up the hill and across the bridge seemed both our territory and our charge.

I took a walk yesterday in the gentle rain and enjoyed every minute of the smells of summer, the large expanses of green, the cleaner streets.  I noticed the doggie green bags in our community and laughed out loud.

I see the results of my activism, and I know that the difference between complaining and action lies at the crux of solution.

What to do with the problems of the world then?

I ask what are you doing at home base.

I just read an article in the New York Times citing that in Nigeria the region of the Niger Delta has endured the equivalent of the Exxon Valdez oil spill EVERY YEAR FOR 50 YEARS! You gotta be kidding me...but no.

Perhaps we are just getting around to noticing that this spells big trouble due to our eyes being open in the Gulf.

The answer, like the song says, is "we're all in this together."

We.  The land.  The people.  The animals. Each other.


The Mystic knows that a 'way of being' that can embrace this recognition begins with the individual.

Stop complaining and start doing what you can where you can. Clean up your own mess. Are you doing something that makes a difference in your community?  Simply walk outside with open eyes and something will come to you. No matter where you live I guarantee you will newly see some way - something large or small - that you can do to make a difference.

The qualities you build will help you in many ways, including -

  • Enlarge your heart
  • Embrace your community
  • Fall in love with the land you walk on!
  • Be an asset to whomever you can - whenever you can - wherever you can
  • Leave things a little better for your presence wherever you go
  • Stop being afraid to make a difference
  • Stop with "that's not my mess..."
  • Stop the "who cares" and be the change you wish to see.

Stop with the notion of separation.

YOU care! That's what matters.

Feel free to comment :)

Truly - we are - all. in. this. together...

Namaste my friends.  


Marneycakes said...

Gael -

Love your attitude. You certainly make a difference every day you're on this earth (but I've known that for a long time). :) xoxox, Marn

Nell said...

Thank you Gael! Eye opening - empowering - pro-active food for thought.

In an HBO short documentary "Saving Afica's Witch Children" I recently came across that same piece of information on the condition of the waters in Nigeria. Makes cleaning up our act only more of an emergency.

This documentary is a deeply unsettling account of what happens to impoverished, exploited communities that live around unimaginable toxic waters. Not recommended for everyone to watch. It does show an incredible example of how community activists can make a difference: one British courageous, compassionate soul teamed up with fellow Lightworkers, working on a local level.

Lotsa Love,

Yokibics said...

Marney thanks to a kindred spirit xxoo

Nell, great to post a resource to broaden our perspective, even - especially - when it's hard to watch. I will find it.

Blessings ladies :)

Anonymous said...

"just open your eyes, look around, and something will come to you" ...or words to that effect. Nice, Gael. It's a shift in consciousness that's required. If people aren't in action at this stage, then taking action, any action, will help foster a shift in consciousness.

In the new age movement, people have gotten very use to "working" on themselves. That's great, and on-going. Time to accelerate things, as all of the issues pulling us in a less favorable direction, are accelerating. If more conscious people would take some kind of action (sign a petition, phone the White House, write to ABC when Diane Sawyer doesn't deliver the news....) all of this would start to shift. And the gem that the new age seeker, seeks, would manifest in their life more quickly.

Thanks for your leadership, Gael. Now... who else wants to help alter the course of events?

ps: having a hard time publishing this. if it shows up three times, forgive me.